Scotland's Coronavirus Levels System and How it Actually Works

Last Updated on 14/05/2021 at 16:46

Scotland has been using a system for tackling COVID-19 by allocating a 'level' between 0 and 4, which was also known as the Levels Framework. These levels can be applied nationally (across all of Scotland) or to different areas depending on the rates of COVID-19 transmission locally.

Current plans are for most of mainland Scotland to move to Level 2 on May 17th, Level 1 on June 7th and Level 0 in late June, providing there is continued progress in vaccinating people and tackling the spread of coronavirus.

What is happening in my local area?

Currently, all local authorities in Scotland are in Level 3. 

In Scotland, there are 32 local authorities, if you're not sure what local authority you live in, you can use the Scottish Government Postcode Checker to find out.

What's happening when?

On May 17th most of mainland Scotland will move to Level 2. All non-mainland connecting Islands will move to Level 1 apart from the Isle of Skye which will move to Level 2 with mainland Scotland. Due to an increase in the number of cases in Moray and Glasgow City, both local authorities will remain in Level 3 for at least another week. 

The plan is to move to Level 1 on 7th of June and Level 0 in late June with a view to returning to something close to "normality" in July. These plans are dependent on continued progress being made with tackling the spread of COVID-19 in Scotland.

Some changes that have already been made and are planned for the near future are detailed below.

From May 17th in Level 2 areas:

  • In-home socialising can resume in groups of up to 6 people from 3 households, and no need to physical distance. Overnight stays in homes are also allowed.
  • You can visit indoor public spaces and socialise in groups of up to 6 people from up to 3 households, with physical distancing.
  • Up to 8 people from 8 households may socialise outdoors - you must remain physically distanced in public places, but in private gardens, you are not required to distance.
  • Hospitality will reopen further - bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted in slots of up to two hours. Outdoor spaces can remain open serving alcohol as permitted by local licencing laws.
  • All organised sport and exercise activity permitted except adult indoor contact sports.
  • Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades, and bingo halls can open, subject to capacity constraints and physical distancing.
  • Outdoor and indoor events can resume. Maximum capacities - indoors (100), outdoors with unrestricted standing (250) and outdoors with seating (500), subject to physical distancing and capacity requirements.
  • Universities and colleges can return to a more blended model of learning.
  • Adult organised non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors.
  • International travel, subject to testing and self-isolation, will move to a traffic light system, depending on other countries' COVID-19 cases.
  • Travel out of a Level 3 area is not allowed and travel from a Level 1 or 2 area into a Level 3 area is not allowed.

There are plans to move all of Scotland into Level 1 in early June and then into Level 0 by the end of June.

These dates may change and the restrictions will only be eased when it is safe to do so. 

What does each level mean?

Level 4

Within this level, virus cases would be at very high or rapidly increasing numbers, and there would be widespread community transmission which may pose a threat to the NHS to cope. In the case of the festive period 2020, local authorities were moved to Level 4 due to a new strain of the virus.

It is likely that this level would see the introduction of measures close to a return to full lockdown. Measures would be designed to be in place for a short period, to provide a short, sharp response to quickly suppress the virus.

Levels 2-3

In these levels, it's expected that the virus is more common, with multiple clusters and increased community transmission (person to person).

There would be a gradual series of protective measures to tackle the virus, focusing on key areas of risk – broadly, indoor settings where household mixing takes place with less, or less well-observed, physical distancing and mitigations.

The measures would be intended to be in place for relatively short periods (2-4 weeks), and only for as long as required to get the virus down to a low, sustainable level.

Level 0-1

Within these levels, a low incidence of the virus is expected with isolated clusters, and low community transmission (person to person).

These levels are the closest Scotland can get to 'normality', without a vaccine or effective treatment in place, before conditions will allow us to move to Phase 4 of the Route Map. They would be similar to the measures in place during the summer, once we reached Phase 3.

Levels 0 and 1 are designed to be sustainable for longer periods of time.

More information

As Scotland changes local protection levels, you should follow the appropriate health advice associated with that level. You can find guidance on the Scottish Government's website.

More information from Young Scot on Coronavirus (COVID-19).